Ben Foden Hits the Right Note- Life on X Factor: Celebrity
By Kiera Fitzgibbon
He’s an internationally acclaimed rugby player and… a singer? RUNY Fullback Ben Foden had his dream come true over the offseason performing on X Factor: Celebrity. Foden joined fellow rugby players Thom Evans and Levi Davis to form the group, Try Stars.
Ben heard that there was a possibility of X Factor rebooting the show and he jumped on the opportunity. “I’ve always wanted to be on X Factor as I watched it since I was a young kid,” he shared with us. “So, I asked my agent if there was any truth behind it. Once the producers heard I was interested, I jumped on a conference call and the rest is history.”
This isn’t Ben’s first rodeo; he’s been on singing competitions in England such as “A League of Their Own” and “All Together Now.” Nonetheless, standing in front of *the* Simon Cowell was nerve-wracking even for a man who’s played in front of thousands in the Rugby World Cup. “It’s a different kind of nerves as it is something I’m not used to but I loved the exhilaration of it all. Like a natural high.”
As exciting as it was to finally perform on X Factor, the experience was “so much more enjoyable” being in a group with rugby players; “both Levi and Thom are like brothers to me.” When the guys weren’t performing, they were doing TV and radio interviews, red carpet events and rehearsals. With such a busy schedule, the guys could count on each other to keep the energy up and motivate each other to perform their best each week. “It’s good to have someone to banter with and lean on during the long days.”
Though rugby’s their game, the guys don’t shy away from choreography and a full show production. Just check out their latest performance of “The Greatest Show” from the film The Greatest Showman, which was Ben’s favorite during his time on X Factor. “We dressed the part and the production went all out with the staging,” he said. “We had fire breathers and acrobats flying around us. It was such a spectacle.” In the Sing Off performance, the Try Stars sang Lewis Capaldi’s “Hold Me While You Wait” which Ben says the group had been “waiting 3 months to perform.”
“I loved all of it: the singing, the dancing and the choreography,” he shared. “I like to think I had a little rhythm, but Thom and Levi are so talented. It’s definitely a little different than being on the rugby field.”
Ben had a lot of fun with each performance; everyone had their role in the group. “Thom was the base, I sang mostly rhythm and Levi sang lead,” he said. “But we all knew that the strongest between us vocally was Levi; the boy has some pipes.” The judges were very supportive of the Try Stars throughout their time on the show, especially Nicole Scherzinger. “She really got behind us and I think she knew what we were going for.”
Sadly, the Try Stars were eliminated last weekend from the Semi Finals. With four acts left in the final, Ben thinks it’s anyone’s game now. “I’d say it would be between Megan McKenna and Max & Harvey. Both acts are seriously talented and have a big following on social media. But if I was a betting man, my money would be on Max & Harvey.”
So, what does the future hold for Try Stars? The guys got a lot of buzz from the show and have been offered a couple of gigs already! “I’d love to see if there’s any longevity to it, so only time will tell.” Also, Try Stars and the rest of the cast of X Factor: Celebrity will reunite soon to record a song for the holidays. “It’s going to be a charity single featuring the acts from the show. That’ll be great fun and cool reminder of our time on the show. It’s even better that it’s for a good cause.”
More importantly, will Ben lend his melodic voice to RUNY to create a RUNY anthem?! “I’m sure I could convince a few boys from the team to jump on a track as singing has always been a part of rugby culture.” Fingers crossed. It would be the best rugby song in the league, no doubt.
Speaking of RUNY, now that X Factor is over it’s time to focus on the 2020 season. Ben’s excited to play against old and new additions as the team travels to different parts of the U.S. RUNY defeated each team in the league once last year except Seattle Seahawks, the reigning MLR Champions, but Ben is determined to change that next season. “Getting out there to play Seattle again will definitely be a great game.”
He misses his RUNY crew while he’s busy in the offseason “but I have to shout out to my boy Connor as he’s my partner in crime.” The squad is getting ready to start training and preparing soon after the offseason and Ben’s excited to see everyone together again. “The Irish boys always have the craic so it will be good to see their smiling faces, especially Ole Butcher.”
Ben hopes that next season he can do well on the field but is more focused on helping his teammates further their rugby careers. “I’d like to work with players and pass on my experience to hopefully better the guys around me.” As a senior player and leader on RUNY, Ben is determined to help elevate the players’ performance to achieve the ultimate goal, winning the MLR Championships.
Congrats to the Try Stars on their amazing run on X Factor: Celebrity! Can’t wait to see Ben back on the pitch for RUNY’s 2020 season.
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